The 10th Street corridor just east of downtown is in the midst of an amazing transformation—one that has gotten a lot of attention and support thanks to its connection to the 2012 Super Bowl.
What’s truly inspirational, though, is that the involvement of the National Football League and Super Bowl host committee didn’t kick off the neighborhood makeover. The groundwork had already been laid. The host committee simply joined the effort, shining a light on a recipe that can be used to save other neighborhoods.
If that happens, it will be the true legacy of the so-called Legacy Initiative on the near-east side. When people see what’s happening on and near East 10th Street—and they will, thanks to the football connection—they’ll see what’s possible and, we hope, join similar efforts.
To be sure, the framework for what’s happening on the east side can be replicated, starting with a “quality of life” plan that neighbors there began working on in 2006. Facilitated by the Local Initiatives Support Corp., the process drew 400 neighbors to a single meeting in 2007. Committees formed to pursue goals such as infrastructure improvements and housing and commercial development.
LISC funneled thousands of dollars in grant money to the effort. Ball State University architecture students pitched in. JPMorgan Chase and the United Way of Central Indiana brought more than $5 million to the table. The neighborhood had $45 million in hand or committed by the time the Super Bowl host committee got involved.
By now, the project has drawn more than $100 million in support. The private sector gave more than $27 million of the total. Streetscape improvements are in progress, apartments and houses are being revitalized, mixed-use commercial projects will break ground soon, and derelict properties are being acquired and demolished or repaired.
As the 10th Street project becomes more visible, those who like what they see and want to make a difference on the east side or elsewhere should contact LISC. Executive Director Bill Taft says businesses can be supportive by:
• Volunteering. Skilled employees are needed in leadership positions or in groups that can work on short-term projects.
• Donating. Cash and in-kind goods or services are welcome. RJE Business Systems, for example, donated all the furniture for the Boner Center at 10th and Jefferson streets.
• Investing. Several organizations, including State Farm Insurance, Citizens Energy and Clarian Health, have begun lending to community development projects.
• Moving in. LISC is always looking for businesses to locate in its neighborhoods to put vacant properties back on the tax rolls, and employ residents.
• Advocating. When businesses speak out for community development, people listen, more so than when not-for-profits ask for help.
Thanks to near-east-side residents, LISC and the Super Bowl host committee, Indianapolis now has a great demonstration project in the works. To learn more about it and find out how you or your company can get involved, visit liscindianapolis.org.•
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